Top Reasons to Think Before You Destroy Documents

Wed, Jan 27, 2016
By: Jim Beran
Top Reasons to Think Before You Destroy Documents

While a formal records management plan needs to include document destruction at the end of every record’s lifecycle, destroying a business document before it has reached the end of its retention period can be a costly and time-consuming mistake.

It's not unheard of for an anguished business owner or records manager to try to find out if there’s any way to locate a document that was erroneously placed in a secure shredding bin. The answer is usually, "no". Why? With on site document shredding, records are destroyed immediately. Along the same lines, with off site document shredding, the documents are destroyed within hours of arriving at a secure shredding facility. And even if it it hasn't been physically destroyed, security measures include randomly mixing shredding loads so that even the records management company would have no way to know exactly where a particular bin’s contents may be in the process.

To avoid this frustrating issue from happening in the future, here are some points to consider before putting your document into secure shredding bins:

  1. Are you sure?

    1. For all intents and purposes, once a document enters a shredding bin, it’s as good as gone. Unless caught right away, it can be difficult, and ultimately impossible, to retrieve once the bin has been emptied for destruction. 
  2. Are there any other copies?

    1. If you’re absolutely certain this document should be destroyed, then make sure all the copies are also gathered for destruction. If not, it may be best to make sure at least one copy remains until you can confirm it should definitely be destroyed.
  3. Is there a digital copy that requires attention too?

    1. If you’re certain the physical document needs to be destroyed, then the digital copy needs to be accounted for also. Your records management plan may approach these documents differently, but both the hard copy and digital versions are important to prepare for destruction. 
  4. Is your records management plan in harmony with government regulations?

    1. It would be nice to assume that every plan was designed to adapt to updates to records requirements. Unfortunately, many companies maintain the status quo because they don’t realize changes to regulations or don’t have the resources to update everything. This can make a big impact on when and how information should be destroyed. 

After reviewing these questions, if you find some doubt whether or not a document should be destroyed, it should remain securely stored until the official next step can be confirmed. If you’re able to go through these questions and confirm that a document can and should be destroyed, then it's ready to go into one of our secure shredding bins with confidence, and we're here to take care of the rest. To find out more about document shredding for your business, contact us today and take a look at our shredding bins guide below. 

Secure Document Shredding Bins Guide